Early OT AA Grade questions


Hey everyone - couple of questions...

Mahogany What species of mahogany did OT use in their early (mine is a 1911 AA Otca) AA grade boats? I'm assuming it was Honduran, but could it be Philippine or African? I'm going to be trying to patch an inwale and want as close as possible match.

Stain - the mahogany on my boat looks like it had been filled and stained at some point (Boat had been stripped prior to my acquisition) - any recommendations on color that may have been used?

Planking and Ribs - I also think the interior was stained - was this original?

Hi Mike,

The mahogany I've seen on these early boats (including the two mid-teens AA Otcas we have) looks like Caribbean or Central American mahogany. If I remember correctly, Swietenia mahagoni is the one commonly called Cuban mahogany, and Swietenia macrophylla is the species commonly known as Honduran mahogany. I'm far from home, so can't look carefully at the mahogany on these boats right now. But I can tell you that at least one of these canoes was in original condition when I got it out of Missouri- it had the original canvas as evidenced by only having tack holes from the tacks that were still there- and it did not have any kind of stain on the hull or trim.

Personally, I really dislike stains on these old boats. They (particularly the filler stains) muddy up the appearance of the wood. That old central American mahogany when cleaned up will be spectacular with its dark, aged patina. And of course you know the hull will also look great unstained. The last thing I would want to do to the hull would be to homogenize the appearance of that aged red and white cedar.

The attached photo doesn't show the mahogany very well, but maybe you can see that it's pretty. This is a 1916 AA Otca that we use on a regular basis after restoration quite a few years ago. You can probably see that the mahogany takes a finish very well, and there's really no need for a filler stain if you either build plenty of coats, leveling well at some point, or do an early wet sanding with finish to fill the pores. I normally just do the former, but the latter works well, too.



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That's the way I'm leaning also. I may put a little toner in the shellac to ad a bit of warmth to the cedar before I start topcoating with spar. The 'wales may need some stain, because I have to piece in some patches and don't want them to stand out too much. Going shopping for some mahogany today - lumber yard nearby has all 3 major flavors so I'll look for the best match.
Filler Stain

Just to promote the discussion, and because I am still curious about the issue, my first rehab was a 1914 OT Ideal. I suspected something was originally added to the finish to even out the mahogany, but I had no idea what was used. All the mahogany appeared to be very homogeneous before stripping. Whatever was used did come off with the stripper, so maybe it was just something added to the varnish.

I don't have a very good photo of the canoe before stripping, but see attached photos of the original canoe and seat. I suppose it could have been years of dirt and degraded varnish, but it did appear something was used to even out the mahogany. For example, one original thwart was strikingly different with respect to color and grain, which wasn't all that apparent until the old finish was stripped.

Any ideas what Old Town might had done or used?

I also agree with Mike that the stripped and varnished mahogany is very nice and doesn't need additional treatment.


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